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The Belize Zoo and Mayflower Bocawina National Park, Belize

Most of these creatures want to kill you but just enjoy and keep walking!

sunny 93 °F

I am not generally a zoo person because I feel bad for animals in captivity, but I also realize that the best zoos are trying to create awareness and provide care for animals that may not survive otherwise. In Belize, seeing many of the local animals will get you killed can be a rare thing, so I really wanted to make the trek to The Belize Zoo. I had heard good things about their environmental commitment to education and the care of birds and animals, and I knew that many of their animals were rescues that would have been absconded for the pet trade or shot as nuisance animals. Here’s what they say about what they do...

The Belize Zoo was started in 1983, as a last ditch effort to provide a home for a collection of wild animals which had been used in making documentary films about tropical forests.

Shortly after the backyard "zoo" began, it was quickly realized that its Belizean visitors were unfamiliar with the different species of wildlife which shared their country. This very aspect fomented the commitment to develop the little zoo into a dynamic wildlife education center.

Today, The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center exhibits over 200 animals, representing over 45 native species. The Zoo keeps animals which were orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated animals, or sent to The Belize Zoo as donations from other zoological institutions.

The Belize Zoo has become the first nature destination in Belize that is fully accessible to visitors with physical disabilities. It is a non-governmental, non-profit organization focused on wildlife conservation through wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education. 52 Belizeans are currently employed at TBZ.

We also found out that the Belize Zoo works with other zoos to safely relocate Belizean Jaguars. If you want to see one, visit the Milwaukee or Philadelphia zoos.

We loved our visit and learned a lot.





Have you ever seen a tapir? I hadn’t! The tapir is the national animal of Belize. Its nickname is the ‘mountain cow’ although it’s not a cow at all! We found out it’s most closely related to the rhino and the horse. Do the math on that one.



This is Sylvia the Jaguar. She is clearly not happy here, but she was considered a ‘nuisance’ animal because she was killing livestock. Had she not been relocated to the zoo, she would have been shot. Considering that there are less than 800 jaguars still estimated in the wild in Belize, putting her here gives her a fighting chance.







This guy is a harpy eagle. He is HUGE. He has hind talons that can be as large as those of a grizzly bear and stands 4 feet tall. His wingspan is 7 feet! However, it can only fly with prey weighing less than one half its own body weight so he probably won’t kill you. Watch your kids, just saying.



Belize is a great place to try local food, so we stop at roadside stands whenever we can. Three tacos for $1 Belize, which is 50¢ US. Not a bad deal.



Our next stop was Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Home to spectacular waterfalls and an entire city of unexcavated Mayan ruins, it was a great place to spend an afternoon. Plus PK got to play Tarzan in the hanging vines so that was a bonus.





This is Rose. Her brother works at Sleeping Giant. Her cousin works at Jaguar Reef. Her cousin knows Amir and Axel from Sleeping Giant. Walter at Jaguar Reef is married to Jessica whose cousin is Alcindor at Ian Anderson’s. The point: everyone knows everyone in Belize.




This is an unexcavated Mayan Temple. They estimate that there may be as many as 3,000 structures in this park alone.


These are leaf cutter ants. They are amazing. They can carry more than 50 times their weight, and travel in lines up to 100 feet long. They are so focused on their work that they don’t stop to sting you, but if you wreck their line by stepping on some of them, they will try to crawl in your shoes and invite all of their friends to come along. Just a piece of jungle advice. Keep walking.


Next stop: Sleeping Giant Rainforest Lodge. You’ll love it. I know we did.

Posted by traciekochanny 12:40 Archived in Belize Tagged rainforest zoo jungle waterfall parrot crocodile belize toucan tapir jaguar belize_zoo bocawina_national_park

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